A few years ago, a viral email in the USA falsely claimed that refugees received greater weekly welfare support than American retirees.

Snopes addressed it:

Claim: The U.S. government provides a much greater monthly allowance to refugees than to retirees.


They also mention variants circulated with the numbers the same, but Australia substituted for America.

It looks like a different version is now being circulated about Australia.

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Source: Viral claim on Facebook

Is it true that Australian Aged Pensioners receive about $AU16,000 per annum from the Australian government, while "illegal immigrants" receive about $AU56,700?

  • 3
    So you've seen an email about the US whose claims are debunked, and an email about Canada whose claims are debunked, and then comes an email about Australia with very similar figures - what do you think the answer is going to be? Commented Mar 16, 2012 at 15:37
  • I think the answer is going to be it is false; and I want a definitive answer I can link to before I start spouting off on Facebook. However (a) the figures don't appear to be similar, and (b) the Australian Aged Pension figure looks about right for a member of a couple.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Mar 16, 2012 at 15:51
  • A freebie for anyone writing an answer: Here are the Australian Aged Pension rates - about $344.50 p.w. for individuals, or $259.70 p.w. (each) for couples, subject to a means test.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Mar 16, 2012 at 16:04
  • Based on the voting, people aren't happy with this question. Any hints you could give me to help improve it?
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 0:37
  • 1
    I upvoted it, merely because it was the first Australian tagged question. The question does sound a little boring, though.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Mar 19, 2012 at 10:22

2 Answers 2



Asylum Seekers in Australia are not eligible for Government assistance until their claim for asylum has been assessed. Currently, the Red Cross runs a program that provides assistance during this time. The Red Cross pays 89% of the Centrelink allowance, which is as of now $405.84 per fortnight.

Once an asylum seeker has been processed and is deemed to be a genuine refugee, they are granted permanent residency and afforded the same benefits that anyone in Australia gets - no more, no less.

The current Centrelink welfare payment for Citizens and Permanent Residents is $456 per fortnight. A pensioner in Australia receives $671.90 per fortnight.


This claim is utterly false.

Just like the similar claims for the US and Canada, there is no justfication for what is said in these emails. In fact the figures are based on the Canadian emails that Snopes debunked. So says the Hoax Slayer website.

The figures quoted in the email bear no resemblance to income-support payments to pensioners, or to payments to refugees settling in Australia,' DIAC spokesman Sandi Logan said today. The text and figures in the email appear to have originated in Canadian emails, websites and internet chatrooms. We suspect that the email circulating here has been cut and pasted from these sources

  • Interesting. The Hoax Slayer web-site has one sample from May 2008 which is, indeed, very similar to the US and Canada variants. They have lots of quotes explaining why this is rubbish, dated 2007 - March 2010. Then they have a completely different sample dated May 2010 which matches the figures I received, but no debunking of that. However, the Mar 2010 quote best sums it up, by explaining there is no such thing as a special refugees allowance; they get the same welfare as others in the same circumstances.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Mar 16, 2012 at 15:59

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